William Saletan argues that life under the Islamist militant group has been “disastrous” for Gaza:
Critics accused Israel of violating the laws of war in practice. But Hamas flouted those laws explicitly. It fired rockets on every city within reach, declaring, “All Israelis have now become legitimate targets.” Weapons launched by Hamas and its allies have hit citizens in Gaza. They’ve hit Palestinian homes and buildings in the West Bank. They’ve hit Gaza’s power lines twice, knocking out 20 percent of the strip’s electricity. All this while managing, with more than 1,200 rockets, to kill only one Israeli.
The vast majority of the damage in Gaza has been inflicted by Israel. Yet Hamas has contrived to make the carnage worse. It has encouraged Gazans to stand in the way of Israeli missiles. When Israel advised 100,000 Gazans to evacuate an area targeted for invasion, Hamas instructed them to ignore the warnings. It added: “To all of our people who have evacuated their homes—return to them immediately and do not leave the house.”
And these nihilist tactics aren’t getting them anywhere either. As Michael Totten remarks, “Hamas is losing and everyone knows it”:
That’s almost certainly the reason Hamas rejected the Egypt-proposed cease-fire agreement. So far it has accomplished practically nothing. A small band of serial killers on the West Bank managed to murder more Israelis a couple of weeks ago than Hamas can manage with its entire missile arsenal now. It’s pathetic, really, and must be extraordinarily humiliating.
The Middle Eastern habit of declaring victory after getting your ass kicked has a long pedigree. Egypt did it after losing the 1973 Yom Kippur War. North Korea built a hysterical propaganda museum in Cairo commemorating that make-believe victory, but at least that particular fantasy is based on something. The Egyptian army did well against Israel for the first couple of days even though it lost in the end. Hezbollah declared victory in the 2006 war despite the fact that entire swaths of its infrastructure were obliterated, but Hezbollah did inflict some serious damage and triggered a refugee crisis. Hamas couldn’t possibly base a victory boast on anything now.
Michael Koplow adds that Hamas’s leadership structure, such as it is, makes it hard for the group to negotiate an end to the crisis:
Hamas is an organization fractured between the Gaza leadership and the international leadership based in Qatar, and so it is unclear what it actually wants and who has the authority to make a deal. Signs point to Khaled Meshal following the military leaders right now than the other way around, and the military guys in Gaza appear to be averse to ending the fighting anytime soon. The atmosphere is very different now than it was in 2012, and while I will for the second time in a week emphasize that internal Palestinian politics are not my expertise, I have the sense that Meshal will be subject to the Gaza leadership’s veto on any deal he is involved in brokering. There is also the complicating factor of Gazans wanting a ceasefire and whether this will create any pressure on Hamas’s Gaza wing to at some point acquiesce.
They’re also likely to run out of rockets pretty soon:
Simply extrapolating the current tempo of operations on both sides would suggest that missile stocks in Gaza will be getting very low within a fortnight. However, that assumes that Israel is not running out of targets, as it did after only a week of Operation Pillar of Defence in 2012. The IDF says that it still has plenty of targets to work on, but the pressure to find more if the missiles keep on coming could yet lead to a limited ground assault. That is something Israel still wants to avoid. But the problems for Hamas and Islamic Jihad are more acute. They need to find a way of quitting while they retain some firepower, particularly as building a new arsenal of rockets will be much harder than before given the close security co-operation between the new al-Sisi government in Egypt and Israel. The military logic on both sides suggests that the end of this bout of fighting is not far off.
Previous Dish on Hamas’s objectives in the current conflict here.
(Photo: Israeli air missiles hit al-Wafa Hospital, the rehabilitation center, which currently serves patients in Gaza city, Gaza on July 16, 2014. Following the strike, Hospital administrators moved all patients from the top floor. By Mohammed Talatene/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.)